On Good Friday, St. Cloud will observe 25th annual Way of the Cross

A Way of the Cross procession at Lake George, introduced in St. Cloud 25 years ago by members of the lay Catholic movement Communion and Liberation, will start at 3 p.m. on Good Friday, April 15. (See box: If you go.)

Participants in the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession walk along Lake George in 2018. (Photo by Dianne Towalski)

At several stops along the procession, participants will ponder traditional Gospel readings of Jesus’ passion and short passages from Catholic writers and hear vocal music.

John and Ann Steichen, parishioners of St Mary’s Cathedral and members of the St. Cloud CL group, have participated in the annual procession since it began in 1997.

“CL friends in New York City who had begun doing a Way of the Cross earlier had recommended that we begin this public gesture as a sign of following Christ in all aspects of our lives to acknowledge that there is no separation between faith and daily life,” Ann said.

“The Way of the Cross is meant to enliven our faith by witnessing salvation taking place daily, in normal circumstances with family, friends, work or school,” John said. “We propose the Way of the Cross in the heart of St. Cloud where people often carry their daily cross alone. We need the presence of ‘God-with-us,’ Jesus, every day. Because of the sacrifice of his cross and resurrection, he dwells among us, every day.”

The CL movement began in 1954 in Italy when Servant of God Father Luigi Giussani sparked an unexpected friendship among students he was teaching at Berchet High School in Milan. It has grown into an international movement, reawakening devotion to Christ in men and women of all age groups, cultures and walks of life. Groups hold weekly meetings of catechesis, cultural and educational events, and moments of “community life.”

If you go:

  • When: Good Friday, April 15, at 3 p.m.
  • Where: Meet at St. Mary’s Cathedral, proceed around Lake George and end at the cathedral.
  • All are welcome to participate. The Way of the Cross reflects on moments of Jesus’ passion with Gospel passages, writings from contemporary authors and hymns.
  • Attendees should prepare for that day’s weather.
  • For more information, contact John Steichen at 320-492-7063 or Ann Steichen at 320-291-1494.

The St. Cloud CL group meets weekly at the Mary Center at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. to share how they have recognized Christ present in their personal experiences. The meetings are open to everyone.

“Growing up we prayed the Stations of the Cross in the church every Friday in Lent. This is a little different,” Ann said. “It’s very moving to be part of a group of people intentionally following the cross on the main streets of your hometown. We begin inside the cathedral church and process down St. Germain past the library and make several stops around Lake George before returning to the cathedral.”

John said, “In the first years, the procession began after Bishop [John] Kinney had completed the Good Friday service and he would give the participants his blessing. Bishop [Donald] Kettler has been joining the procession and offering a final blessing. That unity with the bishop and Church is an important desire of ours.”

“Last year was particularly beautiful,” Ann said. “Some CL friends from New York had relocated to St. Cloud and formed a choir to accompany the procession. Fathers Brady Keller, Derek Wiechmann and Doug Liebsch were able to participate in the choir and offer reflections.”

The procession lasts a little over an hour and typically has about 100 participants. Booklets with readings and songs are offered to all participants, so it is accessible for everyone, including families with small children. The procession is led by a person carrying a cross.

“Some people ask to carry it from one station to the next, or we may invite someone to help. It’s a meaningful, tender, concrete connection with our Lord. The Way of the Cross is an expression that, in all the things I go through, I’m not alone. Christ is next to me, carrying that burden with me,” Ann said.

Author: Nikki Rajala

Nikki Rajala is a writer/copy editor for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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